AARP Eye Center
With Indiana’s General Assembly set to reconvene in the new year, AARP staff and advocacy volunteers are preparing to pitch lawmakers on issues important to older Hoosiers, ranging from affordable housing and improved internet access to more authority for nurse practitioners. The state’s part-time legislature will meet from Jan. 11 to March 14.
Indiana ranks 21st in the nation in broadband access, according to analytics firm BroadbandNow. But in some of its rural counties, where residents could benefit from telehealth and online socializing, fewer than half of households can tap into high-speed internet.
“Adequate broadband is a crucial component of health care, especially for people with transportation issues,” says Julie Mortier, 74, of Valparaiso, a member of AARP Indiana’s volunteer legislative advocacy team. “We learned of one man who needed to wear a heart monitor; his wife was driving him to McDonald’s every day so his doctor could receive the data.”
AARP Indiana plans to urge lawmakers to lift the restrictions on advanced practice registered nurses (APRNs), who can fill primary care gaps for many Hoosiers who reside far from major medical centers.
Currently, APRNs in the state must work under the supervision of a physician in a “collaborative practice agreement,” often paying out-of-pocket fees to the doctor of more than $500 per month.
Nurses without such an agreement cannot write prescriptions for common medicines like insulin, antibiotics and blood pressure drugs. Ending these limitations would improve health care access.
“Despite priding itself as a low-cost state, Indiana has the second lowest rate of affordable housing in the Midwest for households in the bottom 30 percent of income,” says Andrew Bradley, policy director for the nonprofit Prosperity Indiana. “That includes seniors, caregivers and disabled people, in addition to low-income families.”
In August, AARP Indiana state Director Sarah Waddle testified before a legislative committee, underscoring AARP’s commitment to age-friendly affordable housing, which includes promoting home modifications and easing zoning restrictions on accessory dwelling units (sometimes called mother-in-law cottages).
Staying Up to Date
Also on AARP’s 2022 advocacy lineup: fending off proposed challenges to central Indiana’s rapid transit system and lobbying for enhanced paid family leave and nursing home safety.
To keep the public abreast of pending bills and AARP advocacy, Ambre Marr, legislative director for AARP Indiana, and colleagues produce a periodic video podcast, The Legislative Director Talking About Legislative Things.
The informal, candid updates demystify the lawmaking process in digestible and often amusing exchanges between Marr and her guests.
Tune in to the video podcasts at aarp.org/legislativethings.
Interested in becoming an AARP Indiana advocacy volunteer? Email email@example.com or call 866-448-3618.
Melissa Preddy is a writer living in Plymouth, Michigan.
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